Savory Dinner Includes Unsavory Guests

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About a hundred American Muslims attended a State Department dinner hosted by Secretary of State Colin Powell Thursday for the nightly break in the month-long Ramadan fast.

But with the U.S. engaged in a war against terrorists and those who harbor or support them, some observers are questioning whether some on the guest list haven't already bit the hand that feeds them.

Among the more prominent invitees were several Muslim-American leaders who were called upon by President Bush to stand alongside him to show that "Muslim" doesn't mean terrorist.

Several of their comments previous to those meetings, however, can only be defined as distinctly un-American.

For instance, Muzzammil Siddiqi, head of the Islamic Society of North America, has been quoted saying: "The United States of America is directly and indirectly responsible for the plight of the Palestinian people. If you remain on the side of injustice, the wrath of God will come."

The executive director of the American Muslim Council, Abdurahman Alamoudi, who appeared with Bush during a press event to separate Muslims from terrorists, supports two groups named on the State Department's list of terrorist organizations.

During an October 2000 rally outside the White House, Alamoudi was captured yelling: "Hear that Bill Clinton, we are all supporters of Hamas. I wish to add that I am also a supporter of Hezbollah."

Meanwhile, Salaam Al Marayati, director of the Muslim Public Affairs Council, defended Hezbollah's 1983 bombing of the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut, calling it a "military operation," not a terrorist attack.

Despite the seemingly anti-American bent, communications director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations Ibrahim Hooper said concern about Siddiqi only began after he started appearing alongside the president.

"It's the same with other leaders. It's only when they are seen as having influence in the society that they are attacked," he said.

Hooper also writes off such exclamations as a matter of free speech.

"Every American has the right to be critical of foreign policy, domestic policy. I don't think this is seen as somehow disloyal or, you know, in any way inappropriate."

But Ron Williams, a former Secret Service officer now engaged in counter-terrorism, disagrees, and said such speech is a "subtle subversive subterfuge of our basic freedoms in this country to formulate an Islamic revolution."

In fact, Alamoudi has predicted just that, saying it may take many years, but the United States will become an Islamic nation.